WHO IS MAX?
Someone who doesn't like making mistakes. Or being wrong.
Finding my career took both.
After I graduated with an English degree in August of 2015, I knew didn't want to write novels.
Or rather, I knew I didn't want to write novels and live as a poor man my whole life.
As I wandered the job desert, I took a gig at a local coffee shop.
I quickly realized my eye-hand-latte coordination was severely lacking.
I interviewed at a bill collection department for a railroad company. Not my cup of tea, either.
My Dad is in sales, so I tried that path. After interviewing at Enterprise rent-a-car, I got a management trainee job.
The night before the job was supposed to start, my family called me in for a discussion.
"Don't do it." My mom said. "It's not right for you." As her words settled in, I flashed forward to myself in my fifties, gut visible under my sport jacket, balding, my face on the door of some regional building, proud of nothing but making my quotas.
I ended up working at a grocery store to make money in the mean time.
That was prison: dull, machine-like.
Soft 80's hits mocked me from the ceiling speakers.
I went back to working at Lifetime Fitness, where I worked during my college years, this time climbing the ladder to become an interim manager.
Even though I made a bunch of friends with the facility members, there was no creative outlet there.
In the summer of 2016, my mom, former executive at BBDO ATL and former SVP of Marketing and Brand Communication at Arby's recommended I look into copywriting. She said my creativity and problem solving skills would be put to good use.
I talked to some of the ad vets she knew. I learned there was creativity, a bit of sales, problem-solving, English and a higher pay than a coffee shop barista or grocery store shelf stocker.
I enrolled at Miami Ad School in January of 2017, while still working weekends at Lifetime Fitness.
My family only had enough money to get me in for one quarter, so I worked twice as hard, building my book, getting an interview with Mike Lear, the ECD at Ep+Co. in Greenville, SC.
I drove up to show Mike how serious I was. Two months later, I was the resident creative intern.
He said my tenacity and drive got me the job.
My first day in, I wrote lines for Pilot Flying J that the client approved and produced.
Later that week, I got a Tumblr post for Denny's published, with more than 4500 likes.
I started to catch some of that advertising feeling.
Being creative, pushing myself deeper into the ideas, finding gems, insights, solutions; it was a high I'd never felt before.
At the end of my internship, Mike told me to go back to school, build up my book. He said I needed more time to develop.
With some family crowd funding and the last of my savings, I went back to Miami Ad School for another quarter.
I built my book enough to land a spot at Ogilvy Atlanta as a Copywriting Extern (a step above an intern).
"We want to help you write in every creative medium." Chris Dutton one of the CDs told me. "We want you to have the best book you can."
I learned a ton at Ogilvy, working directly with Chris and Matt (the other CD) to make sure my writing perfectly captured the brand voice, even letting me present work to clients, some of which got produced.
Nine weeks in, I was contacted by a former Miami Ad School teacher, Elaine Kelch who wanted me to apply for an internship at BBDO in Los Angeles, working on AT&T.
I applied for the internship that day and was accepted by the end of the week.
Ogilvy wanted to keep me on, but they didn't have the budget to make me a full-time junior copywriter.
My parents said they'd cover rent for June and July. I was going to Los Angeles.
I started the drive on Monday, and in four hours, I was in Nashville, TN.
I watched the Rockets lose to Golden State over a few sour beers.
Nine hours of comedy podcasts guided my way safely to Kansas City, Missouri.
Gracious hosts showed me the speakeasy Jazz bars, the delicious wings and pizza.
Besides a freak thunderstorm, The drive to Denver was pretty quick.
Had my best night of sleep on a couch at a friend's place.
The roads through the rest of Colorado were windy and high. Mountains. Construction sites. Cops.
The red desert of Utah and Arizona frightened me.
Before this trip, I thought that the open roads and nature of America was beautiful.
I was wrong.
Depressing, these were the places people drove to never drive again. A slight turn at any of the 300 miles of desert and one could disappear, forever.
A tumbleweed rolled by as I wondered how many people did exactly that.
I got to Hurricane, Utah late in the night, staying with a guy who I hadn't seen in 10 years.
We hit the dunes in an ATV. Right by the beach.
My car landed in LA around 6pm, Pacific time.
Best skills I learned on the road were how to hold my bladder for three hours straight and how to zone out for nine.
BBDO LA was the next step on my journey.
I learned from some of the best creatives on how to write for the single biggest client in the world.
Late nights. More late nights. Scripts. More scripts.
When my internship was up, I started Freelance Copywriting for bigger clients, working with my previous CD from BBDO LA.
I built more confidence and street cred, till I landed a Freelance gig in Chattanooga, TN at VAYNERMEDIA, working hand-in-hand with the CD there.
A few months later, I was offered full time as a copywriter.
Vayner challenged me to push my creative to new heights.
More and more responsibilities each day. More and more assignments.